As an ancient symbol of fertility and new beginnings, the humble egg comes into its own at Easter. It’s easy to buy ready-made dyes, but a lot more fun to make your own.

It doesn’t take a genius. The easiest homemade dyes are ready to go; simply pour strong black coffee or tea, cranberry or purple grape juice into a bowl with a dash of white vinegar. Beets, yellow onion skins, crushed blueberries, spinach, red cabbage leaves, and powdered turmeric will all make beautiful dyes when boiled in a non-reactive pot with an equal amount of water and a few teaspoons of white vinegar. Boil for half an hour, then add the raw eggs; by the time the eggs are hard-boiled, they’ll be bright and beautiful.

If your child is truly an artist, blown eggs make a longer-lasting canvas. Wash the raw eggs and use a needle to carefully poke a hole in each end and break up the yolk. Working over a bowl, blow through one hole until the egg is empty. (Remind your child not to inhale any raw egg, since it can carry salmonella.) Rinse again and dry carefully before painting or dyeing. Voila – an Easter egg that will last a lifetime, or until your preschooler gets her hands on it.

At Easter, there’s an easy answer to the timeless question; the egg comes first, and it doesn’t matter what laid it. Don’t limit yourself to the grocery variety; seek out tiny quail eggs, giant goose eggs, and multi-colored eggs from heirloom chickens at farmers’ markets and gourmet shops. Nestle them in bowls of clean straw for an easy decoration Martha Stewart would approve of.

Want to help your kids make a sweet treat? Melt chocolate in a double boiler and stir in shredded coconut until the mixture is stiff enough to form into ping pong-sized balls. Push your thumb into the middle to form an indentation; carefully thin the walls of the bowl to form a bird’s nest. Pat the sides and top with extra coconut. Chill until firm and fill with jelly bean “eggs” before serving.

Then, let the sugar rush begin!